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Montana Field Guides

Spring Azure - Celastrina ladon


Global Rank: G4G5
State Rank: S5

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General Description
Taxonomy of western North American Celastrina is in flux, with some authorities now elevating lucia, neglecta, and echo to full species, though each was a former subspecies of C. ladon; other authorities include ladon as a synonym for C. argiolus (Scott 1986; Pratt et al. 1994; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002; Acorn and Sheldon 2006; Schmidt and Layberry 2016). Sections of this account probably include information for more than one taxon now considered a full species.

[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 1.0-1.4 cm. Tailless, lacking orange markings; sexually dimorphic. Uppersurface of males unmarked blue, females blue with at least some black on outer half of forewing; both sexes with undersurface of forewing and hindwing grayish with charcoal marginal band, hindwing with black-gray spots. [The preceding description is relatively generic.]

Phenology
One flight; mostly mid-June to early August in Newfoundland and Labrador, mid-May to mid-June in the Arctic, May to mid-June in Saskatchewan, mostly May in the Rocky Mountains (Scott 1986). April or May to August (at higher elevations) in the Rocky Mountain states (Glassberg 2001). Late April to early June in British Columbia (Guppy and Shepard 2001).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Probably best determined from other blues by being tailless and lacking orange markings; uppersurface of males unmarked blue, females blue with at least some black on outer half of forewing; both sexes with undersurface of forewing and hindwing grayish with charcoal marginal band, hindwing with black-gray spots, but lacking irregular disk blotch present in C. lucia.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Range Comments
Across the northern US and southern Canada from Idaho east to the Great Lakes region and New England, south through most of eastern US; distribution in the west not well-defined but apparently south through Arizona and New Mexico into northern Mexico (Pratt et al. 1994; Pyle 2002; Acorn and Sheldon 2006; Schmidt and Layberry 2016); elevation range poorly described. In Montana, C. argiolus reported from western half of state (Kohler 1980; Shepard and Opler 1993) with records of C. ladon in eastern Montana from McCone and Dawson counties in 1995. Older reports include a mix of C. lucia, C. ladon, and C. echo; northern counties probably primarily lucia, southern counties primarily ladon, with echo across western half of state and neglecta in the eastern half (see Scott 1986; Pratt et al. 1994; Guppy and Shepard 2001; FLMNH Lepidopterists' Society database); to at least 1478 m elevation. Common to abundant (Glassberg 2001), but comment pertains to lucia, ladon, and echo combined under C. ladon.

Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 11

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

 

(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)



Migration
Non-migratory.

Habitat
Woodlands, shrublands, riparian corridors, (Scott 1986; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002). In northern Idaho, densities higher in forest than grasslands, with no difference between mature and young forest stands, and related overall to % cover of larval host plants (Pocewicz et al. 2009), but this study possibly pertains under the current classification to C. echo rather than C. ladon. Habitat in Montana uncertain, in part due to taxonomic confusion, but likely similar to other areas; in Glacier National Park, C. argiolus ladon reported from montane mesic meadows (Debinski 1993), which may refer to this species.

Food Habits
Larval food plants diverse, including Adenostoma, Amelanchier, Arbutus, Baccharis, Ceanothus, Celastrus, Chamaebatiaria, Cornus, Diervilla, Eriodictyon, Eriogonum, Heteromeles, Holodiscus, Jamesia, Kalmia, Ledum, Lotus, Lupinus, Petrophytum, Physocarpus, Prunus, Ribes, Rhododendron, Sambucus, Spiraea, Vaccinium, and Viburnum (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986, 1992, 2006; Pratt et al. 1994; Pyle 2002; Pocewicz et al. 2009; Schmidt and Layberry 2016). Adults in the west feed on flower nectar (including Aletes, Antennaria, Arctostaphylos, Barbarea, Berberis, Ceanothus, Cerastium, Clematis, Daphne, Harbouria, Jamesia, Lasthenia, Leontodon, Lesquerella, Mertensia, Physocarpus, Potentilla, Prunus, Salix, Senecia, Thlaspi, Tussilago, Viola), rotting wood, horse manure, ash, and mud (Pyle 2002; Scott 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Probably similar to other Celastrina species. Females lay eggs singly on host plant flower buds (Scott 1986, 1992, 2006; James and Nunnallee 2011). Eggs hatch in about 3-6 days. Larval development rapid, from egg to L4 instar and pupation in 12-25 days after egg-laying. Prepupal L4 instar wanders off host plant before pupating. Adults eclose (emerge) from non-diapausing pupae in 7-19 days; overwinter as pupae. Larvae do not build nests, are tended by ants (Camponotus, Formica, Tapinoma) (Scott 1979, 1986, 1992; James and Nunnallee 2011; Schmidt and Layberry 2016). Males patrol throughout the day near and around host plants in valley bottoms, on slopes and ridges, in search of females (Scott 1975b, 1986).

References
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Citation for data on this website:
Spring Azure — Celastrina ladon.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from